NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Concrete action needed to address health disparities

feature tile text 'concrete action is needed to address health disparities in systemic, rigorous way

The image in the feature tile is of Francine Eades, Area Director of Aboriginal Health at WA’s East Metropolitan Health Service. Image source: article Minang Noongar health expert leads major health service’s mission to close the gap published in the National Indigenous Times on 9 March 2023.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

Concrete action needed to address disparities

Health services need to take “rigorous action” to Close the Gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia, the new Area Director of Aboriginal Health at WA’s key East Metropolitan Health Service said yesterday. Minang Noongar woman Francine Eades, who took on the role after leading WA’s COVID-19 vaccine roll out in Aboriginal communities, said it was time for “uncomfortable discussions” about racism and other issues affecting Aboriginal Australia.

“We know what the epidemiology of Aboriginal health tells us – we know about those disparities that have existed for quite some time,” Ms Eades said. “We have to acknowledge it and take concrete action to address those disparities in a systemic and rigorous way. It’s time to have some of those uncomfortable conversations about racism and how we are going to address it.” Ms Eades was speaking at a ceremony in Perth to mark her appointment.

Ms Eades has more than 30 years’ experience in the health sector, including 20 years as a registered nurse, and has a Master of Public Health in Applied Epidemiology obtained under the supervision of now Australian Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly. Ms Eades is also a past chairperson of the Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service and worked as an academic at the Curtin University Centre for Aboriginal Studies and the Curtin Medical School.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Minang Noongar health expert leads major health service’s mission to close the gap in full click here. You can also view the video featuring Francine Eades in one of the videos developed by WA Health to assist WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healthcare Workers in their roles.

FASD Communications and Engagement Grant

NACCHO is excited to announce the FASD Communications and Engagement Grant to support NACCHO members to develop and deliver highly-localised, place-based communications materials and engagement activities to enhance and extend the Strong Born communications campaign. Strong Born has been designed to raise awareness of FASD and the harms of drinking alcohol while pregnant and breastfeeding, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in rural and remote communities.

NACCHO members located in MM4–MM7 are eligible to apply for Round 1 of the grant funding. NACCHO members located in MM1–MM3 will be eligible to apply for Round 2.

Eligible ACCHOs can apply for between $5,000–$60,000 (GST exclusive) of FASD Grant funding which can be used for activities such as:

  1. Creation of locally relevant communications materials and resources raising awareness of FASD and the harms of drinking alcohol while pregnant and breastfeeding
  2. Hosting community events and yarning circles
  3. Running information sessions for staff members
  4. Production of additional copies of the ‘Strong Born’ campaign materials
  5. Translation or adaptation of the ‘Strong Born’ campaign materials and/or key messages into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages

You can register for the grant information session being held at 1:30 PM AEDT, Wednesday 15 March 2023 here.

For more information about the FASD Grant and how to apply, visit NACCHO’s FASD Communications and Engagement Grant webpage here.

Applications for Round 1 will close 11:00 PM AEDT Wednesday 22 March 2023. Applications for Round 2 will open in May.

You can also contact the NACCHO FASD Grants team at using this email link.

tile text: FASD communications & engagement grant - open to all NACCHO members info session wed 15 Mar 1:30pm - 2pm AEDT register

How to improve health equity for young men

Risky behaviour, particularly among younger men, sees shorter life expectancies and higher rates of premature mortality than in women. Flinders University Professor (Health and Social Equity) James Smith has partnered with colleagues at the University of Michigan and Georgetown University in the US, to co-edit a new book about innovative health promotion programs which tackle the complex social and structural barriers facing adolescent boys and young men of colour (BYMOC) in Australia, NZ, the US and Canada.

From alcohol and drug misuse, smoking, unsafe sex, reckless driving, violent confrontations, poor dietary habits and a tendency to avoid seeking help and using health services, their new book discusses positive steps which have helped address the problems compounded by social, economic, demographic and geographic disadvantage.

The book chapters describe how to reduce incarceration, improve educational and health outcomes, offer strategies to address mental health challenges, and ways to promote access and optimal usage of health and social services.

To view the Retail Pharmacy article Strategies for improving Health Equity Among Young Men of Colour in full click here.

vector image overlapping transparent male heads different colours

Image source: Retail Pharmacy.

Why members joined the Coalition of Peaks

In 2020 the Coalition of Peaks (CoP), all Australian governments, and the Australian Local Government Association signed the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement), to change the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The National Agreement has been built around what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people said is important to improve their lives. The CoP is made up of 80 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak and member organisations across Australia.

The video below Why members joined the CoP features:

  • Donna Murray, CEO Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA)
  • Robert Skeen, CEO Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council NSW (AH&MRC)
  • Fiona Cornforth, CEO The Healing Foundation
  • Scott Wilson, CEO Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council SA

VtP is a beginning, not an end

Yorta Yorta woman Dr Summer May Finlay who is a Senior Lecturer (Indigenous Health) at the University of Wollongong has written an opinion piece about the forthcoming referendum on a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament (VtP). Dr Finlay says that “with so much media attention and conversation on social media about the Uluru Statement and the VtP, many people are seeking to understand what it means now and in the future.” According to Dr Finlay “To understand the Uluru Statement, including the Voice, you need to be clear on what the Statement says and be aware of the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in this Country.”  

“There are many decisions, including legislation and policy, made by parliament. Currently, there is no systematic way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can provide their views on decisions impacting us. The Voice will be one way of ensuring our voices are heard. Consider how the 2007 NT National Emergency Response, otherwise known as the NT Intervention, would have looked if we had been able to provide advice on its development and implementation. Or would this damaging legislation never have gone ahead? The 2008 Closing the Gap targets, first developed in 2008 without the input of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, wouldn’t have needed to be revised 12 Years later in 2020 through a co-design process with the Coalition of Peaks (CoP).”

The Voice should, however, never undermine the capacity for each Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nation and community to have a say in what happens in their region. Local input is just as crucial as a coordinated national approach.  Ultimately, there is much to consider when considering how you will vote in the Referendum.  And for me, the most critical consideration is whether it will benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I believe it will. It’s the first of many steps required. It’s a beginning.”  

To read Dr Summer May Finlay’s article The Voice to Parliament is a beginning, not an end on the University of Wollongong Australia’s The Stand webpage click here.

Dr Summer May Finlay

Dr Summer May Finlay. Image source: Public Health Association Australia’s Intouch Public Health webpage.

Unlocking hope for people with kidney disease

For the first time in 20 years, two new classes of drugs have become available in Australia for the treatment of diabetic kidney disease, the most common cause of kidney failure. Both are extremely effective, safe, and relatively affordable. However, too few people with kidney disease are using these breakthrough drugs. We can only unlock these benefits if doctors, patients and the broader community have greater awareness of kidney disease, and the tools we have to fight it.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a gradual loss of the kidneys’ ability to filter waste and excess fluid from the blood. It’s quite insidious. In Australia, kidney disease affects an estimated one in 10 people, but most won’t be aware they have it until it is quite advanced. At the point of diagnosis, many people are at risk of progressing to kidney failure.

For someone with kidney failure, their life expectancy is reduced by three quarters – equivalent to many cancers. Patients with CKD experience a dramatically reduced quality of life – they feel weak and tired, and they can’t think clearly. Not to mention they’re at greater risk of a whole range of other conditions including heart disease, heart failure and stroke.

To view Professor Vlado Perkovic’s article Unlocking hope for people with kidney disease published on the University of NSW’s Newsroom webpage in full click here.

tablets being poured from a bottle into the palm of a hand

Photo: iStock. Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom webpage.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

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